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Comedy king could also frustrate

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Last updated 06:30, August 26 2017

United States comedian Jerry Lewis.

OPINION: Was Jerry Lewis funny? Infamously, elements within the French intelligentsia thought so. There was even a book written on the subject, Why the French Love Jerry Lewis.

The rest of the world has always struggled with the question. Not that Lewis wasn't a bona fide star in his day. Paired with Dean Martin for a decade, the two were listed among the top box office attractions of the early to mid 1950s, actually topping an exhibitors' poll in 1952. In this the pair fitted into a long line of comedy double acts, taking over from Abbott and Costello, with whom they shared certain low-brow, slapstick elements.

As Abbott and Costello's career preceded and overlapped with Martin and Lewis', so did the pairing of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Like the latter, the act depended on the tension between a relatively suave sophisticate who tended to get the girl and a buffoon. If Hope played snivelling cowards, Lewis was the sentimental juvenile, the little boy in adult's clothing.

Martin and Lewis even had a cameo in the penultimate Road movie, The Road to Bali (1952), a symbolic........

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